Industry placements myth-busting
It's likely you'll have questions about whether to offer industry placements.
This article answers some of the common questions that employers have been asking.
Raising awareness and understanding
Placements will distract from our core business and won’t add value
Placements work for your organisation. They allow you to draw on a temporary and flexible source of talent. You may have a discrete project which would suit someone with higher-level skills. They allow you to get to know students who could work for you in the future. They raise your profile in the local area and develop the supervision and mentoring skills of your staff.
The reality is that placements are an opportunity and not a distraction. You decide what students do while they are with you, so you can make the placement useful and relevant to your organisation.
We already do apprenticeships – why should we do industry placements too?
If you already do apprenticeships, industry placements are a great way of getting to know potential future apprentices early on, before they leave education.
Apprentices can be ‘buddies’ for industry placement students and act as mentors. Also, when apprentices are doing off-the- job training, it might be appropriate for an industry placement student to cover their role.
Industry placements don’t bring tangible benefits or return on investment
There are many benefits to placements – see the benefits and costs of industry placements article.
You have to identify which are most important to your organisation and make sure that the placement is designed to align with your business priorities.
I’m not clear about our roles and responsibilities when it comes to offering industry placements
The roles and responsibilities – supporting learners on their placement checklist will help you decide who does what in your organisation to make sure all the responsibilities are covered.
In general, it’s not that different from taking on a temporary worker. It’s not all down to you and your organisation. The school or college you work with will take on many of the tasks involved in designing and delivering placements.
Recruiting and working with students
It’s too difficult to support students
Students aren’t all that different from other new recruits. You may already have the resources and experience to support placements.
Your provider, such as a local school or college, will help as well, both to recruit the right students and support them before, during and after the placement.
It’s going to cost us, at a time when resources are scarce
Yes, it’s an investment. But the costs aren’t high, and the benefits are real.
For one thing, placements can add resource to your team at a time when you need more people. When the Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel in London hosted a student as part of the industry placement pilot, they found it a positive experience and an excellent way of attracting new talent to their business. In 2020, the hotel has taken 6 students, offering placements in IT, catering and construction (electrical and plumbing) as well as the more obvious area of hospitality.
You may find the following delivery approaches helpful in reducing the resources you need to commit to placements, while at the same time giving students a richer experience:
a) Placements can be delivered jointly with another employer, which reduces the time students spend in each organisation and enables them to experience a wider variety of work and working environments.
b) You may be able to collaborate with other employers by arranging for students to spend part or all of their placement with partners or subcontractors in your supply chains and networks.
c) If you have students doing part-time work, this can count towards their placement hours, provided the work students do is relevant to the T Level. Students may spend up to a third of their placement hours outside your workplace, working in small teams or projects with their peers alongside another employer or professional.
d) You may be able to arrange for students to spend some of their time on placement in a skills hub or training centre to improve their readiness for the real working environment (this only applies to specific T Level subjects).
See the benefits and costs of an industry placement for more information.
We don’t have any links with colleges or providers
Department for Education provides advice on industry placements. You can contact them on 08000 150 600 and select option 4
You can also use our Partner with a school or college function on this website to identify your local schools, colleges or training providers who offer industry placements.
There isn’t going to be a T Level for our industry in the foreseeable future
You can still offer industry placements, even if there’s no T Level yet.
By getting involved now, you’ll be in a great position to take full advantage of the T Level when it arrives. It may be that you could offer several types of industry placement, for example in digital or business and administration, as well as placements that link directly to your industry.
We have a recruitment freeze – how do placements apply to us?
Placements aren’t the same as job vacancies. There’s no commitment to offer students a job afterwards – although it’s great if this is a possibility. So, there’s no impact on headcount.
If you do decide to recruit, you may have saved significant resources by establishing the placement student’s suitability.
Too many staff will need to be involved
Some staff will be involved – but not many, and you choose who they are. The key people are a supervisor and/or mentor – they help students settle in and learn, just as they do for any new recruit or temporary worker.
This could be a great opportunity for your existing staff to develop their management skills. You shouldn’t need extra staff.
There’ll be loads of paperwork
There will be some. But your school or college will deal with most of it. They are experienced in making sure that any administration that’s needed is as streamlined as possible for you and that it complies with the appropriate guidelines.
We’re a business in a rural area and transport is difficult
There are students available everywhere, including in rural areas, although you may need to think a bit more carefully about travel. Your school or college will be able to help make sure you locate the right student(s) for your organisation.
See providing industry placements in rural and remote areas for more information.
Won’t this add to our health and safety, insurance and other responsibilities?
Not necessarily, if you already take on young people as temporary workers. Even if you don’t, there are a few simple steps you can take. Your school or college will help you with advice and support.
The areas you might need support with could include health and safety for younger people on-site, Employer’s Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance, DBS checks, safeguarding and students with special educational needs and disabilities. There is more information on these below and further guidance in the legal compliance article.
Health and safety
Employers are responsible for the health and safety of students while they are on an industry placement. You must provide a safe working environment, adequate induction and suitable training. If you are the lead employer and use the ‘Supply chain and employer networks’ approach, you are responsible for ensuring that your partners and/or subcontractors have the correct health and measures in place for students.
If, for example, your business may be considered a ‘high-risk environment’ where you use dangerous materials or machinery, you must check that the student is old enough to use it before giving them training. The ‘Skills hub and employer training centre approach’ helps to address specific health and safety concerns arising from having young and inexperienced people in the workplace e.g., where they may be a potential danger to themselves, other staff, or clients, or where there is a risk of damage to property, equipment, or reputation to the business.
If the student is doing work that is normal business practice and you already have up-to-date Employer Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance, then you do not need additional cover.
If you are unsure whether the work the student is doing counts as ‘normal business practice’, then you should talk to your insurance company. As the student will be working for you for longer than 2 weeks, you will need to notify your insurer about the placement.
If you are the lead employer and use the ‘Supply chain and employer networks’ approach, you are responsible for ensuring that partners and subcontractors have appropriate employers’ liability insurance for the time they are hosting students in their part of the placement.
Schools and colleges are responsible for the safeguarding and welfare of students on industry placements – but they need your cooperation. Employers generally do not need to carry out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on members of staff supervising young people aged 16 or 17. However, where a student has a need for personal or health care due to a disability, the person providing that care may be required to obtain an enhanced DBS check.
A student may need an enhanced DBS check before starting an industry placement in certain sectors - for example, in the health care and early years sector where the employer would need to check that the student is not barred from regulated activity relating to children or vulnerable adults.
If you are the lead employer and use the ‘Supply chain and employer networks’ approach, you are responsible for the student throughout the full placement, including students’ safeguarding and welfare during the time they are working with a partner or subcontractor.
Students with special educational needs and disabilities
Employers and schools, colleges or other providers, have legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010. This includes making reasonable adjustments for students who may be placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability compared with non-disabled people.
You will need to cooperate with your school or college to make sure that any legally required reasonable adjustments are provided.
The ‘Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND’ approach) enables students to get ready for their placement by learning technical and employability skills in a supported environment first, before they start the placement with you.
Offering an industry placement
If you're interested in offering an industry placement, get in touch with T Level providers near you.